Thursday, 25 August 2011

Bramble, Elderberry and Port Jam

Yet another result of the weekend's haul of berries is this jam, which is an interesting variation on the usual hedgerow jam, the addition of the port gives it an extra zing and depth of flavour and the elderberries make the jam lighter than just using brambles alone.

At this time of year, the brambles (or blackberries if you like - I'm not really sure if there is any difference really) are reaching the pinnacle of their flavour and ripeness, and a quick trip to any hedgerow, derelict ground or similar location will yield a healthy crop. They go really well in pies, crumbles, and also with pork.

700g Brambles (Blackberries)
200g Elderberries
350g Apples
1.1kg Sugar
1/2 Lemon for juice
250ml Port

First of all, wash everything that you have picked well to remove dirt, insects and all the other things that can lurk on the berries.

Next, peel and chop the apples.  Don't worry about cutting out the cores though, as they will be passed through a sieve later, removing the pulpy bits.

Add the apples and berries to a large pan and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes to soften the fruit. This will get most of the juices flowing out of the berries, and soften all the fruit. Also, it will give a chance to liberate some of the pectin from the brambles, which will help the jam to set.

Once the fruit has been cooking for 10 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cook for a bit, them pass the fruit mixture through a metal sieve, pressing it through with the back of a spoon.  This removes the apple cores, and more importantly the large seeds that brambles tend to have (I hate getting the caught in my teeth!)

This can take a while, so it can be easier to put it in the blender for a bit before passing it through the sieve.

After doing this, return the fruity mush to the pan (feel free to clean it first to get rid of any seeds, but you don't need to...) add the sugar, lemon juice and port and then heat the mixture up until it reaches setting point .  To check this, put a saucer in the fridge to chill, drop a teaspoonful of jam onto the saucer.  Let it cool.  If you can push a jellied trail through it with you fingernail, it’s ready.

Then transfer the jam to clean and sterilized jars while it is warm, then store somewhere cool and dark.

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